Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Today has been… overwhelming. If someone had told me just a couple of months ago that one of the last things I’d do this year is visit Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, I would have laughed. Like London, Amsterdam felt like an out of reach city to me and so I never did much research on it, only knowing that if my Path ever took me there, I would pay anything to see the works of the painter who most influenced my own artistic talent and use of colour.

I was young when I oil painted; it was during my adolescence, so a period roughly 20 to 25 years ago. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I’d kept up the hobby. But after I moved out on my own, I never had room for a studio and oil painting is too unforgiving a medium for a temporary space.

The museum is one of Amsterdam’s top attractions and lines can be long. Even with a Museumkaart, you are advised to book a timeslot online, for which there is no extra fee. I managed to score a spot at nine this morning. I set off in almost balmy gloom around 8:30, with Google surprising me by taking me through a lovely park.

I went down a street that reminded me of Belgravia and paused for a moment to look at this lamp hanging over the street. At first, I thought it was a bell!

I was early upon arriving and there was not yet any queue for folks with a time slot, so I popped into a café for a pricey, but oh-so-pretty café cortado.

Here’s the exterior of the Van Gogh Museum. This is the group entrance. The regular entrance is around back to the right. The queue for folks without a booked time slot was getting long!

The museum is in Amsterdam’s museum quarter. You’re looking here at the Diamond Museum, which doesn’t interest me.

Here’s the café, Healthy Food Coffee.

I was a little irked that at no point in my Museumkaart research was I told I had to activate the card before use/that it would not be activated at time of purchase. So after queuing for a few minutes in a much shorter line than the regular one to get in and then queuing to have my e-ticket with my time slot scanned, I was told I had to go back out to the ticket window to have my card activated. I couldn’t believe it since the line to said ticket window was a block long! But, thankfully, a museum employee had been told by radio to look for me and guided me to the head of the queue and then right back in. So it was fine in the end.

There’s a free coat check in the museum, which I took advantage of as I knew I’d be there a while.

Photography was, of course, not permitted in the museum. Visitors are encouraged to use stock images, so that’s what I will do in this post. I took copious notes as I went through. An audiovisual guide to the museum is an extra 5 euros and I got one. I don’t think I would have appreciated my visit as much without it. I read somewhere that 1.5 hours should be allotted to the museum and I was there a full three, including the special exhibit!

The guide and signage give a lot of context to Vincent’s life, but I don’t think it would have been quite enough for me. I highly recommend the movie “Painted With Words,” a unique piece in which all words spoken are from actual correspondence. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Vincent and the resemblance is striking as both share the same carrot orange hair and bushy beard, pale green eyes that change according to the light, and a marked Cupid’s bow to the upper lip. No other actor I’ve seen play Van Gogh so closely resembles him in both his self-portraits and the one photograph I’ve seen. Combine that with his remarkable acting skills and you’ve got a truly remarkable film.

So the museum starts with the self-portraits. They were not meant to necessarily represent Van Gogh as he was, but to play with textures and colours. You’ll notice that his eyes, for example, change colour from portrait to portrait. Painting himself was also a way to get around the fact that he could not afford models.

I then saw Vincent’s palette, thick with paint showing the brush strokes. My palette was like that. Like Van Gogh, I painted thickly, so there was no point limiting how much I squeezed onto my palette. Van Gogh used colour to represent emotions, not reality, and I did much of the same. I regret not having at least photographs of my works. I saw them as very crude and childish, but they were the works of a child and according to my instructor, they showed potential. She was always struck by how I used colours that were not true to nature, especially with skies. Many years later, in college, I took an art class and the teacher told me she could tell that my biggest influence was Van Gogh.

The first really important of his works that I saw was The Potato Eaters.

This one is from his early days, when he was still trying to figure out who he was as an artist. It was a crowning achievement for him even though it got scathing reviews. His ideal models were peasants, people who lived rough with the salt of the Earth, and this scene depicts all that he found to be noble about them.

Vincent’s father was a very religious man and Vincent broke away from that, but was still religious in his own way and even worked as a preacher. This art was very much about his own search for God.

And then… the Sunflowers.

I cannot tell you how many times I attempted to recreate this painting in my own style, using his example of one colour in many tones. To see it up close was to realise I’d never seen it before. The background is almost like a woven pattern. I was amused that the guide told me to step away and let someone else have a look. But I had it all to myself! I was so lucky to have been able to visit the museum when it was not crowded and I could take all the time I wanted at each painting.

Bridge in the Rain is done in a Japanese style, which Vincent admired.

You can really see the rain coming down and feel how cold it is.

I learned so much I didn’t know about The Bedroom.

The painting was damaged and has been restored. Vincent used a lot of paints that faded over time and so many of his paintings are not as vibrant today as they once were. Amazing!

We saw how Van Gogh dabbled with Seurat’s pointillism style of painting and how that led to his own iconic style of placing side-by-side unmixed dabs of painting of contrasting colours and letting the viewer’s mind mix them.

I saw some of his drawings that look like his painted style and some of the reed pens that he cut himself.

This still life of fruit, Quinces, Lemons, Pears and Grapes, is the only one that still has the original frame that Vincent made himself.

Like with Sunflowers, this is another painting where he plays with yellows and a bit of contrasting blue.

And here is the single painting that most influenced my own style, Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

There are three things of note here that I applied to my own paintings. First is how the painting is divided with a third devoted to the sky and the rest to the foreground, with a very narrow sliver of background between them. Second is how he used his palette knife to sculpt the waves with white paint. I applied that technique to snow. Finally, it’s this painting that inspired me to sign my own artwork in a bold contrasting colour.

Like Vincent, I appreciate how using complementary colours (eg. red and green or blue and yellow) can add depth and interest to a scene, as we can see here in the Yellow House, his last home, which he shared for a time with Paul Gaugin and in which was the bedroom he so famously painted. The bright blue sky really pops against the yellow and orange of the house.

The Sower is the painting that inspired me to create landscapes in odd colours.

I distinctly remember my painting teacher criticising my choice of sky colour in one of my paintings and my telling her, “Van Gogh would have understood!” Funny the things one remembers!

I just went through the blog hoping to find a picture of one of my only surviving paintings, which is above the entry door in Miranda, as it really illustrates all this influence, but alas, I don’t seem to have one. 🙁

At any rate, the museum moved on to the end of Van Gogh’s life, when he was in the grips of mental illness. There is a misconception that he painted because of his illness when, in fact, he painted in spite of it.

There is some controversy as to which of his paintings his his last and Tree Roots is most likely it as it is unfinished and unsigned.

Like me, Van Gogh found great inspiration in a Prairie-like landscape, “expanses of wheatfields, large as a sea.”

Wheatfield with Crows

If that style of painting birds was good enough for Van Gogh, it was good enough for me. My painting that I referenced above has birds like these in it. I love this painting so much that I bought a small metal tin at the gift shop with this painting on the cover. I’ve been wanting a tin like that to carry Advil and it was only 3 euros. 🙂

And here’s Under Thunderclouds that so reminds me of home and which I was sad not to see in the main collection, but thrilled to view in a special exhibit, an unexpected bonus!

I didn’t know until today the story behind the striking Almond Blossom.

It was painted for his brother Theo and his wife Jo upon the birth of their healthy son, whom they named Vincent, with the blossoms representing rebirth. His nephew Vincent was the founder of the museum.

Irises is just a bit less famous than Sunflowers and I prefer it because I love the contrast of the blues and the yellows.

The paint is layered on so thickly that this painting took a month to try, something I remember too well since I also caked the paint onto my canvasses to give them a 3D feel. I appreciate Irises so much more now that I’ve seen it up close.

After this main exhibit, I was able to visit a special exhibit about Daubigny, Monet, and Van Gogh. Daubigny was much older than the other two and greatly influenced their style. I wasn’t familiar with him. Monet is my second favourite painter after Van Gogh. I could not believe that this exhibit did not have a surcharge. Little did I know what awaited me…

Daubigny’s Moonrise at Auvers reminded me of my favourite Monet painting, which hangs in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Paris.

I saw a painting of poppy fields by all three, showing their different styles. Vincent’s was very hands on, with him squeezing the red painting directly from the tube onto the canvas and then manipulating it with his palette knife.

And then something so incredible happened that I had to pinch myself. My favourite Monet, Sunset on the River Seine, was not hanging in Paris, but at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam!!!

Claude Monet (1840-1926). “Soleil couchant sur la Seine à Lavacourt, effet d’hiver”. Huile sur toile, 1880. Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais.

I just love that bright bit of orange against the muted blue.

Landscape with Peasants Reaping shows how Vincent’s drawing style also evolved to match his iconic painting style.

Visiting the Van Gogh Museum was more than a dream come true. What an amazing gift!

My day of tourism wasn’t quite over, but this post has been long and I have work to do. More later!

A Well Planned Day In Málaga Does Not Go According to Plan

I had a lovely Monday evening in Málaga. My host was in and I felt comfortable hanging out in the sitting room while she made dinner. We chatted, a glass of wine was offered, and before I knew it, I was sharing her meal! It was almost ten by this point and I’d had my dinner, but rice noodles with veggies went down very well! I got to know a bit more about her and she about me. I marvelled that I could understand her as well as I do when I struggle so much with speaking. I know, I know, I need more practice like this! I’m taking some conversation classes when I get to England (!) and will find some when I get to Mérida. I want formal one-on-one sessions where my mistakes are corrected.

I eventually called it a night and got up late again this morning to find that she’d left out a pile of stuff for me to have for breakfast if I wanted. I have some of my own things, but the fresh bakery buns have been a treat! I planned my day over breakfast, making a list of a couple of museums that seemed interesting and something to do.

My first stop today was a nearby train (underground) station my host directed me to, saying that it is a much easier and cheaper way to get to the airport. I found it easily thanks to her clear instructions and will definitely be using it to get to the airport tomorrow. She’s amused that I’m leaving at eight for an 11:30 flight while I’m freaked out at not being at the airport at least three hours before my flight!

My next stop was just a few blocks away. I passed an artists supply store on the way. I miss oil painting so much and have promised myself that I’ll take it up again when I get to Mexico.

I used to have a suitcase with all of these things in it.

So my next stop was the central market:

Inside, there was brisk business going and throngs of people. I saw fish, meats, and seafood, but no produce in the parts that I explored.

So many olives!

Here’s that amazing stained glass from outside.

What an interesting building!

I then wandered by the waterfront and remembered that I wanted to check out the Ferris wheel. I decided that if the cost for a ride was less than 20 euros, I would do it!

The cost was only 10 euros! I got a car all to myself. This is the Mirador Princess and moves from city to city. It is the tallest itinerant Ferris wheel in Europe. The London Eye is much taller, but is not strictly speaking a Ferris wheel.

Looking towards Alcazaba.

Africa is off in the distance.

A sign that I’m on my Path!

At the top!

The lighthouse.


Done! It was so fast and, to be honest, I was rather disappointed because I barely had time to see anything.

Oh, wait. Off we go again! I was SO happy! I didn’t take many pictures the second time, preferring to soak in the view.

To my immense delight, we went around a third time! This time, I was stopped at the top for more than five minutes!

Here’s a terrible video I shot while I was up there. Unfortunately, the app I used to use to edit doesn’t work the same way anymore and I don’t know how to cut things out. So enjoy my stream of consciousness… 🙂

I then walked along the waterfront. It was cool, but the sun was bright and almost hot. I knew I had to savour it as this is likely going to be my last sunny day in months…

I like the name of this malecón area, palm grove of surprises.

Look how the shadows add interest to the structure.

I found the maritime museum, which I hadn’t seen any of the Málaga museum lists. It was seven euros and something told me not to bother.

I headed back towards Centro.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Ferris wheel trying to figure out this picture. At first glance, it looks like the iconic image of a mother with her children during the Depression, but doesn’t it look like actor John Malkovich?! It is. He was part of a project where he recreated a bunch of iconic photographs. Striking!

My next stop was the Palacio de Aduenas (palace of customs), the new home of the Málaga Museum. Its brand new, only a week old, and there is almost zero information about it online. I just knew that it houses in one building fine arts and archeological exhibits. It sounded like my kind of museum and more interesting than anything else I thought to see today, but I didn’t know if it’d be open or even affordable.

The museum turned out to be free for EU residents and a whopping 1.50 euros for others. 🙂

The building is beautiful. The ground floor has the lobby, the first floor has fine arts, and the second floor has the archeology collection.

I did the first floor backwards for some reason and started with the history of the customs house and the Málaga Museum. There were marches in the street demanding that Málaga’s iconic customs building become the new home of the city museum. It was amazing to see such interest in the project!

And then, I moved on to the fine arts portion of the museum, where I started with this rather interesting portrait of Fred Astaire.

I’ll just share a few things that struck me.


NOT a peanut…

This is an orange tree.

This autopsy scene had me mesmerised!

A mother with her children.

Artist’s son. Looks like a spoiled brat, no?

This one got a WOW from me!

The English translation on this one made me laugh since French is apparently the language of fine arts. “Plein air” means “outdoors” and “rapprochement” means becoming closer.

Scenes from Venice.

I loved this nearly photographic scene!

This “gloomy winter” scene reminds me of home.

I then headed up to the archeology portion of the museum.

I like how they kept the neoclassical feel of the space, but incorporated more modern features as well.

The building is around a central courtyard.

Most of the exhibits in this section were behind glass and did not photograph well at all. I learned about the history of the region, from Neanderthals through to the Middle Ages. So interesting!

Neanderthal bones.

A recently discovered tomb that was in perfect condition.

The first of several wonderful mosaics.

This incredible mosaic was found by a guy renovating his house. It features Venus at its centre.

The museum was not shy about admitting that there are artifacts located in it that have nothing to do with the area, but were brought here to build a fake history that would strengthen Spain’s ties to the Aryan race during WWII. Here’s Himmler during his visit to Spain.

I was sad that I could not go out onto the balcony to view these in greater detail.

When I was done with this part of the museum, I took the stairs up that modern wooden box I showed earlier. At the top, I got to see the roof tiles close up. Can you see why they are remarkable?

They are etched with a scene from Málaga! There was no signage directing me to this. What a find!

I was about to leave when a guard asked if I’d visited the almacén. That’s a word I learned on the way from Almería and knew as meaning “warehouse.” Here, they mean it as a storeroom.

So many more treasures! This wound up being my favourite part of the museum!

Another guard came over as I left this section and told me to open all those drawers! One surprise after another! By the way, those museum guards were so kind and attentive!

Hands to go with the collection of feet.



Bottle stoppers (I think).


A plate with my initial on it. 🙂

This one made me gasp. I can’t believe it’s shut up in a drawer!

There was a section of models.



This pitcher was a lovely rose colour; rather unusual.

I was able to access the courtyard from the ground floor.

I do believe that’s a pineapple.

Looking up to the modern roof.

I spent almost three hours at this museum! It was too late to do anything else on my list! I found a menú del día for a very late lunch (inexpensive, adequate, but nothing to write home about), and then headed home to start packing!

I ended up having a little work to do this afternoon, so I didn’t go back out again. It’s now getting late and I have an early start tomorrow, so I’m signing off. I’m not sure where my time in Spain went, but by this time tomorrow, I’ll be settling into my new life in Amsterdam. The adventure continues!

Monday in Málaga

Today was the day I had to get myself sorted in terms of footwear and a coat. My host in Almería told me about a place called Cudeca, which is a charity shop. There happened to be one right by my flat, so I went there to look for a coat.

They had tons of coats for 15 euros each. Unfortunately, most were way too big or too small for me. I found a camel coloured one that would have been awesome had it been three sizes smaller. As it was, I was wearing every layer I plan to where under a coat and I was swimming in fabric. So pass. I settled on a really lovely charcoal one that was just a smidgen snugger than I would have liked and with slightly too short sleeves, but it was clearly the best I was going to do and I’d spent enough time looking at new stuff to know I was getting a bargain. Four ladies in the shop told me that they were voting for that one, so it must look okay. 🙂

I ambled to my next destination and found the Sherlock Holmes pub. Rather random!

So many churches…

I found myself at Plaza de la Merced.

Where they had a great beer and wine special for breakfast.

My destination was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and museum about his life, not to be mixed up with the museum where you can see his artwork. So here’s the house where he was born. His family had an apartment within this house, but the museum now encompasses the whole building. Admission is 4 euros, which includes an audio guide in several languages.

Am I glad I came today as they are closed tomorrow and all the other museums I want to see are closed Mondays and open Tuesdays!

Photography is not allowed in the museum, which was small but very interesting. The most memorable part for me was seeing Picasso’s original sketchbooks with his initial ideas for Les demoiselles d’Avignon, arguably his most famous painting, sketched out in ink. I also saw documents and photographs related to Picasso’s life and learned about his passions for bull fighting and flamenco as well as the enormous influence Málaga had on his life, as he spent his formative years here. It was  wonderful little museum and the audio guide was interesting.

Here I am back outside in front of the Picasso statue. By the way, I didn’t get a single guess or even request for a hint yesterday as to the statue I photographed. It was Hans Christian Andersen!

The obelisk that anchors Plaza de la merced, which hasn’t not changed much since its early days.

It was about 12:30 by this point and I hoped to find lunch. So I ambled my way back to the touristy core of the old town. Here’s a neat fountain. Wolves or dogs on this side…

…frolicking ladies on this side. Name of this side is “Diana’s bath.”

I must have a sushi radar or something because I found an all you can eat for 13 euros restaurant! But I went for the 8.50 menú del día as it promised as much food as I really should be eating at one meal. I started off with a beer, then my first miso soup in way too long. Even though it was sunny today, it was still very chilly and this hit the spot! Yum!

I also got fried noodles with veggies (mmm!) and ten pieces of sushi that were very good. For the menú del día, I wasn’t allowed to choose what I would get, so I advised the server about the egg thing so I wouldn’t be brought anything with mayor or, heaven forbid, the omelette sushi (tamago) that featured prominently on their menu! The server was very understanding and I was very happy with the selection.

Their windows were neat as they had barcodes!

Next, I found this hilarious store, the perfect place for those who crave 9-euro bags of Oreos and 10-euro boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal.

Please do not give me this gift basket. I don’t miss American-type food. 😉

The stars have no boyfriend” is the first line of a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca. Like all good poetry, it’s very evocative, but I have no idea what it means. 🙂

This part of Málaga is all very narrow alleyways, but, for some reason, it wasn’t hard to get orientated.

I passed a Chinese bazaar store as I headed towards the El Corte Inglés department store for footwear and decided to pop in to see what clothes they might have as I want a second fleece. I found one I liked a lot at a “nice” store for a reasonable 15 euros and one that I didn’t like quite so much (pull over versus zip up) at a different Chinese bazaar store for 10 euros. I hoped to find a third option to help me make a decision. Well, this store had the exact same 10-euro sweater, but for 8 euros. Decision made! I brought it to the till and the man told me that he could not get rid of that colour (a coral pink) and if I had exactly 5 euros so he would not have to make change, I could have it for that price. SOLD. 🙂

BTW, I am XXXL in Chinese sizes. LOL I’m anywhere from a 38 to a 40 in European sizes (encompassing the variability that is a North American size 8). I was worried I’d have a hard time finding clothes here as there are so many tiny people, but, thankfully, I’m just as average sized here as I am in North America and I can shop in any store that isn’t focused on “plus sizes,” which seems to be 50 and up here. Clerks here also seem to have a better eye for a client’s size. While I’m still mistaken by Canadian and US store clerks for being a much larger size than I am, Spanish clerks have been correct every time. It’s definitely been a lot more pleasant to shop here.

At any rate, with the fleece bought, I was all set to brave the weather I’m heading into… Well, I may add a hat, but with my scarves covering my ears, they may be enough. I’d rather wait. I have “glittens” I brought from home, fingerless gloves with a mitten cover, so I’m set on that end. I will need wool socks at one point, but I haven’t found any here. I can definitely land on Wednesday with what I have and not freeze.

Where was I? Oh, right, on my way to get boots. 🙂

There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts across from the El Corte Inglés department store that made me laugh. Look at the Cookie Monster doughnut!

After checking out many shops, I conceded that if I could afford them, which I could, a pair of Panama Jack boots would be an investment I would never regret. They are handmade of Spanish leather and while not easily found in North America, known enough there for me to have wanted a pair for a long time.

A pair of boots of comparable quality in Canada has set me back over $400 and the pair I bought today were $230… These are not the ones I wanted, but rather their base model. The ones I wanted were more aesthetically pleasing yet functionally identical and $30 more. Part of financial responsibility is conceding that you really don’t need pink soles and laces for traipsing through puddles, snow, and jungle! 🙂 These were phenomenal value in that they come pretreated to be waterproof and you get a cleaning kit with leather protecting wax, extra laces, and a carrying bag. Last time I bought boots in Canada, I had to buy all those things separately.

The shopping experience was good. You have to ask for service in Spain, so I had lots of time to comparison shop and think through my decision. I saw these on Saturday night so I’d already had time to pretty much make up my mind, but it was good to have a moment before making the plunge without having a sales clerk breathing down my neck. When I was finally ready for help, I went to a cash register and asked the lady there if she could help me. She said she could and followed me to the boots. I showed her what I wanted and said that I might be a 39 or 40. She went to the storeroom and came out with several sizes. I think 40 was the biggest pair they had for all models and it felt just a bit snug for me, especially since I was only wearing thin socks. The clerk reminded me that leather stretches and had me walk around a bit. Doing that made me realise the boots were going to be perfect once I’d broken them in  as they were a little loose at the heel and toe. So sold!

I went home for a bit and then headed out to start the breaking in process. I found this rather fancy alley:

And this not so fancy alley:

So many stockings!

Here I am back at the American store. I agree with them that, “Clients don’t expect us to be perfect. They expect us to deal with things when situations arise.”

Sign outside an apartment building: “Your right to smoke ends it impedes the rights of your neighbours to relax. Let’s respect the silence of the night and avoid police presence.”

I walked for a couple of hours in my boots and while they were stiff, they felt very good. They will mean having to drop my Keens, a decision I feel better about now that I found a charity drop off box. I’m sure someone else will get some use out of them. I’m at the point where I’m sick of them and I know I won’t have occasion to wear them again for a long time. So there’s no point trying to find room in my suitcase for them. I will also have to dump a couple of tee-shirts to fit the new fleece. I’ve worn through two of them, so that won’t be any hardship either.

Another thing I found in my travels was a train station my host told me about where I can catch a ride to the airport. She said it’s faster and cheaper than the bus! So that’s where I’m headed Wednesday morning. I just need to solidify the trip from the airport in Amsterdam to my hosts’ place. They gave me instructions, but I’m still not quite sure where to get off on the tram. I guess I should email them. 🙂

It was another good day here. I should have time tomorrow to do a little more exploring!

A Drizzly Amble In Almería

I thought I was going to get the weekend off, but, of course, work came in, mostly because I’m the only person who usually works on weekends for that client and the client assumes I’m available! Because it is a holiday weekend in the U.S., I was told I had till Monday morning their time (evening my time) rather than their Sunday morning. They just about never have anything for me on my Monday because it’s still their Sunday and so I had thought to take Monday off. But since I got the extension and really needed a full day off I chose not to work today, Saturday, and then do the work on Sunday and Monday.

It was the first really cold night here. I went to bed in my thermals and added a second duvet to the bed. I was so comfortable I pretty much passed out at 11:30 and woke up at 8:00 this morning. I was in no rush to go anywhere. So I let the cat into the room and snuggled with her for almost a full hour while I checked my emails and Facebook on my iPad. She started to get fussy so I asked her if she was ready for breakfast. She promptly jumped off the bed and headed to the kitchen. But I was in no rush and was still lying there when she came back ten minutes later, jumped on me, got in my face, and yelled, “MEOW!!!”, which I’m pretty sure means, “I WANT BREAKFAST,” in cat.

I eventually got her sorted and made myself a nice breakfast of whole grain toast with hummus, sliced cherry tomatoes, and black olives, plus, of course, coffee. It was grey and drizzly, but I really wanted to go to town as this would be my first day since I got here that I’d have time to just amble aimlessly with no need to go back to work after. I did scratch my plans to get to about 3KM from downtown and walk along the malecón as the wind coming off the water was unpleasant, but figured I’d be okay a bit more inland.

It was almost 10:30 when I finally headed out. The buses run at the half hour on the weekends and the last Saturday bus had come around the hour and 45 minutes. Today, it came at just shy of 10:40.

With a sky this colour, a clearing was not likely!


I got off at my usual stop and didn’t get very far before ducking into a café for a second breakfast. I wanted a pastry since I’d had a healthy first breakfast. 🙂 This pastry with dried apples wasn’t huge and was very tasty!


The wind and rain let up by the time I got through the newspaper (not the one in the picture, as that just has sports coverage), so I headed towards the water.


I’m still trying to figure out what this sign is trying to say…


The courthouse.


This pedestrian street was commissioned and built in 1894 under the reign of Alfonso XIII. They had to reroute traffic to accommodate it.




This is the “cable inglés” (English cable), which was used to load ships with iron transported on trains. It is considered a work of art in steel construction and was built in Gustav Eiffel’s style.



These ferries go to the African continent. Melilla is a Spanish community on the African continent. I am investigating whether a visit to the environs of Nador might be a compromise to going to Marrakech as it’s only about 50 euros to get to Nador from Almería.


Shame these fountains aren’t working. I like the one with the sun.



Ambling westward towards the old city.






I loved how the flower boxes are themselves a work of art.


I ended up going through that arch to find myself in the heart of the old city.



Orange trees still awe me.





I love the tile work I see all over Almería.




Looking north to the fortress.


“We want free women.”



There are tons of play areas like these all over Almería.


They have age limits. The ones I’ve seen in my neighbourhood are for ages 11 and under. The one above is for ages 7 and younger.


A few play structures later, I found one for kids aged 9 and younger.



I love these big trees.




Coming back to Paseo de Almería, I found the Doña Pakyta art museum. It was free, but there was a 3 euro special exhibit. It was almost closing time, so I will come back to the special exhibit, but I had time to go upstairs check out the artwork.





There were were a bunch of paintings belonging to the “Indalo” movement, based on a local cave painting. This group of artists was the first of the avant-garde movement after the Spanish Civil War.




I really liked the rich texture of the oil paintings. I want to take up this pastime again when I get settled in Mexico. I think the colours there would really be inspiring!



“Terraces of Almería.”


I loved this floor that reminded me of a cross-stitch pattern.



This painting was really interesting. Look at the contrast of the super realistic grapes with the crude nature of the rest of the painting.



This is Place de la Concorde in Paris. So I’m guessing this, and not the Washington Monument, is what Almería is emulating.



Cramped buildings, old men on a bench (literally the title of this piece!), and laundry: this is “my” Europe.


“Almería, Joy of the Sea”


I wandered around some more and found this church, where there was a wedding.


I went around the back and found this graffiti-strewn alley.


Just as I came out of the alley, an older couple ran to me and asked me a question, sounding very panicky. I had a moment of Sherlock Holmesian brilliance and made a deduction based on their attire. “Are you looking for the wedding?” I asked. “YES!” the lady replied. I told them the church was on the other side of the building where we were standing and if they went to “that” street and turned right, they’d see the fancy black car parked in front of the church. I got about a thousand thank yous before they rushed off. Amazing timing, no?!

It was almost one by this point and I was famished, so I figured it was time to go home and have lunch. I passed this amusingly named store on the way to the bus stop, a play on the Spanish word for “home” and the word “emporium.”


And then I found… lunch. An American diner/UK café style restaurant with the kitchen open all day! I could not believe it!


The translation effort on the menu was worth a laugh. I mean, “Ask for our English (carta?)”?! LOL


I went for a burger and beer and… learned that burgers in Spain come with a fried egg! Good thing I’m not allergic and only have an intolerance to eggs! Thankfully, the egg came off easily and the flavour did not contaminate the meat, which was a real beef patty. There was also bacon and cheese. I haven’t had a real burger since Belgrade and dang did this one hit the spot! The fries were much better than they look.


There was no sauce on the burger, though, so I asked for mustard and was brought this:


I was nursing my beer and watching on TV the reports of Fidel Castro’s death when I was brought a piece of flan, that, of course, I had to politely decline. I requested a coffee instead (a “solo,” which is a single shot of espresso, no milk). The burger, beer, and dessert were a set price (8.50 euros) and coffee is extra, but the server told me that since I didn’t have dessert, they were not charging me for the coffee. I think this is a fairly standard decision since I often see menú del días that say, “and dessert OR coffee.”

As I was heading out, I heard the server speak English to some other customers! I have not heard English while out and about since I got here! It was really strange!

It was raining quite hard when I got out of the restaurant, so I just hurried to the bus stop. The electronic sign there told me my bus would be coming in 26 minutes, but one pulled up after 4 minutes after I arrived! I had to stand most of the way home.

Here’s a map showing some of my stops today:


It was such a lovely day despite the weather. Finding lunch was such a bonus!

Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman Amphitheatre

I’d asked my best friend Bast what she would like to do in London. Most of her list was of interest to me, but the only thing on it that fit in with my itinerary was the Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman Amphitheatre. It was about halfway between the Tower of London and St. Paul’s. Considering what an amazing find this amphitheatre was, it really isn’t that well known. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Bast!

London is really easy to get around. There is tons of signage everywhere, so even getting to something a little off the tourist path was super easy. I never did get a SIM card for my phone, so I couldn’t use it for directions and I also never got a paper map. I didn’t need either.

On the way, I decided to mail Bast a postcard. That was… trying. I passed a business marked “Post Office,” but it didn’t say Royal Mail anywhere. I logged onto the free WiFi provided by the Tesco Express a couple of doors down to confirm that “Post Office” is just that and that Royal Mail has been privatised. So I went back to Post Office and a very large and scary looking man demanded to know what I wanted. I said that I wanted to mail a postcard and he looked at me like I was a complete idiot (maybe that’s not how you say that in the UK?) and told me to use one of the self serve machines.

I wasn’t keen on doing that and tried to get to a counter, but he blocked me and repeated that I had to use the self serve machines. I went to a machine and poked around the menus for a bit until I was fairly confident that I had located the correct postage. I then had to figure out where to insert the coins I wanted to use for payment. That done, a stamp printed, but I had no idea where to mail my letter. I went back to the entrance and found two slots marked “Franked mail”, one for 1st class and the other for 2nd class. Mr. Big Scary Dude was gone and there was a long queue at the service counter, so I went back to Tesco for their WiFi to look up which slot I should drop my letter into and got nowhere. So I went back and stuck it in the 2nd class slot… Bast, I hope it gets to you. If not, I tried my best! 😀

I then found the Guildhall Art Gallery, located in a pretty courtyard. The amphitheatre is below it. The entrance is to the right where you can see people queuing. Admission is free, but you have to put your bags through a scanner, hence why it took some time to get in.



The amphitheatre was found during the construction of the art gallery and was one of the most important archaeological discoveries in London in over a century. The discovery meant that major changes had to be made to the art gallery’s design.




The amphitheatre would have been oval. You can see here a drawing of what it would have looked like.


I liked this door. 🙂







Remains of the wooden drainage system.








The ruins were amazing!

It was already past noon by this point and I knew St. Paul’s could warrant a couple of hours, so I didn’t visit the art gallery, although I did check out a couple of works that caught my eye.